Win OVERLORD tickets!

A Competition

On the eve of D-Day, American paratroopers drop behind enemy lines to penetrate the walls of a fortified church and destroy a radio transmitter. As the soldiers approach their target, they soon begin to realize that there’s more going on in the Nazi-occupied village than a simple military operation. Making their way to an underground lab, the outnumbered men stumble upon a sinister experiment that forces them into a vicious battle against an army of the undead.

We teamed up with UIP Africa and are giving away 15 double tickets to each of the following screenings:

The Zone (Johannesburg), Gateway (Umhlanga) and Cavendish (Cape Town)

You read right! That means that 15 lucky readers in each of those regions will get to go to an exclusive pre-release screening of Overlord on 7 November @ 19h30 for 20h00 sharp.

All you have to do is 1) like our FB page, follow us on twitter and IG 2) share this post on FB and 3) comment with JHB, DBN or CT 4) tag the person who’ll be your date this Wednesday and that is it!

The first 15 people’s names to do so, per region,  will be on the guest list! So get tagging and get sharing!

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First Man

A Review

I expected to be in awe. I expected to be blown away and taken on more than a rocket ride. I wanted to be enthralled with emotion and wonder at the content and majesty of the mankind’s wondrous achievement and boy, was I!

First Man is not what you expect it to be. It isn’t yet another drama set in space of pseudo space documentary attempting to marvel the audience with grand dialogue and complex cosmology. It is one man’s story – the first man’s. As the title suggests, the film focuses on the tale written by Neil Armstrong’s life. The audience is introduced to more than is expected from the film with the very first scene delving into the unexplored personal life of the astronaut (Ryan Gosling), enlightening the audience of the life he led before becoming the man we know him to be.

Not only will those interested in the facts of the space race be satisfied by the majesty of NASA’s achievements while being inspired, but those that appreciate a film with more character than flesh are sure not to be disappointed. One of the most blatant aspects of a film is cinematography, which can either be a character in itself (which was successfully achieved in First Man) enhancing the essence of the film, or not. The intimacy of the personal profiles so eloquently sketched on the silver screen, was elevated to a level I last experienced in Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman. Add to this the glory of Justin Hurwitz’s score meticulously created to leave a footprint on the hearts of audience members, recreating the same emotions provoked by Damien Chazelle’s directing, every time the melody is heard.

I’m not one to jump on a bandwagon, or rather, a moon buggy, but I must admit that Ryan Gosling is quickly becoming a talent in the likes of Cate Blanchett and Robin Williams, clearly showcasing his ability to submerge himself in any role, irrespective of genre, rendering himself obsolete in order to shift the focus on the character.

The film as a whole is a noteworthy achievement in balancing biopic with history and science-drama. First Man is spectacularly gripping and emotive in every way.

Please be sure to like, subscribe, comment and share. For more reviews, access my archive by clicking on the triangle with the plus sign right at the bottom of the page or click on “more reviews” in the menu up top.

Win First Man tickets!

A Competition

On the heels of their six-time Academy Award®-winning La La Land, Oscar®-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reteam for Universal Pictures’ First Man, the riveting story behind the first manned mission to the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the decade leading to the historic Apollo 11 flight.  A visceral and intimate account told from Armstrong’s perspective, based on the book by JAMES R. HANSEN, the film explores the triumphs and the cost—on Armstrong, his family, his colleagues and the nation itself—of one of the most dangerous missions in history.

We’re giving away 5 double tickets to an exclusive pre-release screening of First Man on 24 Oct (20h00) at IMAX® – Mall of Africa, Johannesburg and 10 double tickets for a screening on 24 Oct (20h00) at Cavendish, Cape Town! Popcorn and soda included, obviously…

To be one of the first to see First Man before its international release comment with “Johannesburg” or “Cape Town”, like/follow/subscribe and share this post on any social media platform (@hurtersOPN). That’s it! You’ll be in the running to go on an adventure of a lifetime in partnership with UIP, Ster-Kinekor, and IMAX®

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*Winners will be chosen at random from twitter, instagram and FB

*For multiple entries, tag friends in the comment section in separate comments

*The film has been rated 13 L

*Entries close 20:00 on 21 Oct 2018

*Winners will be announced on FB

Win Halloween tickets!

A Competition

*****CLOSED*****

In Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

We teamed up with UIP Africa to give away 5 double tickets to an exclusive pre-release screening of Halloween Movie on 16 Oct (17h15) at the Labia TheatreCape Town and 5 double tickets for a screening on 17 Oct (19h30) at Suncoast Casino, Durban!
To be one of the first to see Halloween before its international release comment with “Durban” or “Cape Town” like/follow/subscribe and share this post on any social media platform. That’s it! You’ll be in the running to wet your pants before the rest of South Africa gets to.
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*Winners will be chosen at random from twitter, instagram and FB
*For multiple entries, tag friends in the comment section
*The film has been rated 18 H L V
*Entries close 20:00 on 10 Oct 2018

Win! Hotel Transylvania 3 Hamper

A Competition

*****CLOSED*****

Is the school term becoming just too long? Wondering what to do with the kids to distract them from their dreadful homework? You’ll be sure to have a fun time watching Hotel Transylvania 3!

The monsters have planned a much-needed getaway and are going on a cruise with an exciting itinerary. This adventure is bound to be the nightmare every monster longs for with stops at the Bermuda Triangle to active volcanos. The film is sure to entertain while teaching an important life about tolerance and love for all.

We teamed up with Sony Pictures South Africa to bring you an exciting competition! We’re giving away a Hotel Transylvania 3 hamper to the value of R650!! The goodie-bag contains everything you need for your own summer holiday (beach towel, water bottle, outdoor play set, game, activity pack, and notebook!)

All you have to do is watch the trailer below, head on over to our brand spanking new Instagram page (@hurters_opinion), follow, like, tag two friends and comment with the answer to the question below.

Question: Which emoji best describes what happens when Count Dracula eats garlic?

Competition closes on 28 September. Entrants need to be able to collect their hamper at Ster-Kinekor, Brooklyn Mall, Pretoria. The winner will be announced on our Instagram page.

Stroomop

'n Resensie

Mens mag die fout maak as jy die name Donnalee Roberts en Ivan Botha sien om te dink dat Stroomop net nog ’n opvolg is op hulle driekuns wat met Pad na Jou hart en Vir Altyd begin het. Daar is ’n oorheersende kommersiële faktor wat die hoofrol in die meerderheid van Suid-Afrikaanse rolprente speel. Dit is ’n faktor wat kreatiwiteit en diepte onderdruk, maar tog pragtig en oppervlakkig op die silwerdoek flikker en ook tot ongelooflike sukses by die loket kan lei. Maar was hierdie faktor aan die stuur van Stroomop? Is dit net nóg ’n fliek vir die massas? Of dra die produksie gewig?

Die gehoor ontmoet Dr. Lana Marais (Donnalee Roberts), ’n ongevalle-chirurg wat duidelik te veel hooi op haar vurk het.  Sy word vriendelik gedwing om groepsberading by te woon na die afloop van gebeure waaroor die gehoor vir eers in die donker gelaat word. Uiteindelik, na die hardkoppige dokter haar trots opsy skuif, ontmoet sy ’n groep vroue wat elk met hul eie letsels opgedaag het. Vivian (Simoné Nortmann) geniet ’n glasie wyn soos ’n peuter Oros geniet en Adrie (Chanelle de Jager) geniet Red Velvet kolwyntjies op dieselfde manier. Diona (Ilse Klink) is ’n toegewyde prokureur en ongelukkig meer toegewyd aan die reg as aan haar familie, wat haar en haar dogter, Nixie (Carla Classen) se verhouding nóg moeiliker maak. Hulle besluit om op ’n avontuur te gaan – dit is immers op die magtige Oranjerivier tussen die gloeiende berge van die Noord-Kaap waar mens gekonfronteer word met jou wese. Wat volg is ’n warboel van avontuur, komedie, drama en samesyn toe die groep se planne skeefloop en hulle aan hulself, mekaar en die natuur uitgelewer word. ’n Warboel wat spartelend probeer om so boeiend soos Meryl Streep se The River Wild te wees, maar wat byna verdrink.

Stroomop se rolverdeling vul mekaar goed aan, maar die toewyding van De Jager en Nortmann onderskei hulle van die ander. Die vreesloosheid waarmee De Jager doelgerig haarself aan die rol onderwerp sorg dan mens van die aktrise vergeet en net die karakter Adrie op die skerm sien. De Jager deel die kalklig met Nortmann, wat haarself weereens oortref met spel at ongeëwenaar in haar generasie van Afrikaanse akteurs is. Die boeiende effek wat dié aktrises op die gehoor het, word egter telkemaal onderbreek deur ’n tekort aan karakterverdieping en cliché redigering wat soms lomp oorkom.

As ’n geheel beloof die rolprent om ’n wegholsukses te wees en Ivan Botha en Donnalee Roberts se seges tot dusver, te oortref. Dit bou op die suksesresep wat dié twee keer op keer behaal – met harde werk as hoofbestandeel. Alhoewel sekere klein tegniese aspekte van die film dit suggereer dat die vermoë of begroting te kort geskiet het, poog die kinematograaf om daarin te slaag om die pragtige landskappe op skerm vas te lê en die gehoor weg te voer sonder dat hulle op die tegniese leemtes kan let. Daar is wel indrukwekkende tegniese uitdagings wat met vlieënde vaandels oorkom is, soos die onderwaterskote met tuimelende, spartelende roeiers. Dit word egter weereens onderskep deur cliché klankredigering en voorspelbare musiek soos die liedjie, “You Are My Sunshine”. Dié liedjie word amper self ’n karakter in die fliek en lei sodoende die aandag van Lana as hoofkarakter af, aangesien dit eerder met die storielyn van die newekarakters verbind is. Die rolprent sou dalk beter gevloei het as só ’n lied aan die hoofkarakter verbind was – en moontlik ook eerder ’n Afrikaanse treffer was. Laurika Rauch se stem wat bekende, koeseterende Afrikaans sing, sou soveel meer emosies ontlok het.

Die rolprent raak telkemale ’n bietjie oordadig met te veel versiersuiker en motiverende aanhalings, maar ek het begrip daarvoor, want dit is wat die deursnit Afrikaanse kyker wil hê. Stroomop se storie neem ook gans te lank om aan die gang te kom en verloor byna onmiddelik stoom.

Dit is noemenswaardig dat draaiboekskrywer Sean Robert Daniels se invloed as lid van die skryfspan ’n byna tasbare verdieping in die kwaliteit van die produksie, asook die Afrikaanse filmgenre teweë gebring het. Dít is die verdieping waaraan die gehoor vir ’n oomblik in Stroomop blootgestel word.

’n Rolprent moet meer bereik as om net bevredigend vir kritici te wees. Dit moet tot positiewe verandering lei. Stroomop slaag wel hierin en sal met hierdie rolprent gehore inspireer om hulle eie letsels te ontbloot en sodoende die juk van huiwering, vrees en skaamte af te gooi. Hierdie verdieping saam met die doelgerigde momentum van die Stroomop-vervaardigers sal lei tot die onbetwisbare sukses van die fliek en sy maandelange teenwoordigheid in bioskope landswyd.

The Shape of Water

A Review

I do my best not to form an opinion about a film before experiencing it in all its might. I do not regard people’s opinion on a production before I am able to form my own. That being said, you might recall that I have admitted that I am inclined to eulogize a film if directed by Danny Boyle or Christopher Nolan, when written by Aaron Sorkin, or, in the case of The Shape of Water, scored by Alexandre Desplat. But was the score the only factor that impressed?

Set in an era ruled by conservatism and fear, The Shape of Water plays against the backdrop of an America, dead-set to win the space race armed with their perception of science.  After the discovery of an exotic creature in the South American jungle, authorities decided to study the amphibious being the best way they knew how – by being inhumane. By chaining him up and hiding it away for experimental research to be done.

Little did they expect a cleaner, Elisa (Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmin) to show the compassion and humanity that they lacked. Elisa, being mute, falls blatantly in love with the only man that hasn’t identified her with her disability. Armed with her best friend, Zelda (Octavia Spencer – The Help, Hidden Figures), they set out to free him from the torturous environment he held in.

The Shape of Water is similar to a Dali piece. It confuses and frightens. It leaves no instance for the audience to be impressed by mediocrity. Hawkins has impressed with roles in recent productions like Maudie and manages to completely disappear in the character that she is portraying while, as always, Spencer portrays the sassy moral backbone of society which leads one to think that she is being typecasted as such. With seductive cinematography that introduces a scene and sub-text before it comes alive on the silver screen, it is difficult to simply watch the film and not feel a part of it. Desplat once again managed to astonish with his ability to successfully set the emotion of a scene with a mere stroke of a string. His pieces engulfed the audience to submit to the silent emotion on the screen while being taken on a scenic journey through the turmoil of what is hopefully about to be era-specific prejudice.

Most might attempt to simplify The Shape of Water but it subtly addresses problems that the world are still faced with today. Problems that are on the declined and frowned upon, but that right there is the actual problem. Instead of being frowned upon, it is our responsibility to face the fact that discrimination against love, race and social classes are still a reality. The evident fear of the unknown is still present. The search for knowledge and understanding is still with us, but that shouldn’t be used as an end to justify the means. Without it being part of the main theme of the production, writer-director, Guillermo del Torro addressed these injustices by simply reminding the audience of its presence.

The Shape of Water is more than an abstract cinematic masterpiece, it is an important discussion starter if watched with an open mind. If not, well you’ll be one of those that don’t recommend it.

Hand drawn poster of The Shape of Water

 

Please be sure to like, subscribe, comment and share. For more reviews, access my archive by clicking on the triangle with the plus sign right at the bottom of the page or click on “more reviews” in the menu up top.

Vir.Ander

'n Resensie

Ek is ontstig. Tot in my wese is ek versteurd. Ek wil rebelleer teen die boosheid van ‘n triomfanklike kultuur wat die oorhand steeds in sy minderheid geniet – ‘n oorheersende onderdrukking van menswees wat onophoudelik vreedsaamheid verhoed deur antagonistiese afgevaardiges sonder ‘n ons ontsag vir menslikheid en dit is Vir.Ander se skuld.

Vir.Ander is die nuutste produksie deur die Naledi bekroonde geselskap met Jannes Erasmus aan die hoof as skrywer, regisseur en vervaardiger, wat trompop die verkwisde waarheid van die verlede aanvat.  Gebasseer op die ware gebeure van Suid-Afrikaanse kampe wat spesifiek geformuleer is vir skynbare “gay conversion”, waar die wangeloof in elektriese skokterapie as manipuleermiddel vir die gees gebruik word as oplossing vir die sonde van liefde, vertel Vir.Ander die verhaal van ses jong volwasse mans wie ingeskryf is met die doelwit om stereoptipiese mans van hulle te maak. Ses wesens wie se ouers hulle seuns ten enige koste “genormaliseer” wil hê onder die vaandel van Christendom, wat uitgevoer word deur dieselfde ekstremiste wat veroordeel word oor sekere aspekte van hulle verspotte oortuiging, maar tog nie dié een nie.  Dít mag dalk die boodskap van die dialoog wees, maar Vir.Ander is ‘n veelvoudige produksie met basiese menslikheid as onderliggende tema.

Dit gebeur nie gereeld dat ek meegevoer word deur Afrikaanse teater nie en dit is slegs vanweë my gemaklikheid in my moedertaal.  Dis die taal waarin ek grappe vertel, droom, glo, bid en baljaar, maar dit het onmiddelik met die eerste tree in die teater in vir.ander.  Erasmus het die vermoë om nie net die vierde muur te breek nie, maar dit nietig te verklaar vanuit die staanspoor.  Alles, van die stel ontwerp wat strategies en subtiel ongemak op die gehoor afdwing, tot die doelgerigte gebruik van beligting om fokus nie net te verskuif nie, maar ook te beklemtoon – soms vleiend en romanties, maar meestal brutaal en skerp – sluit kohesief aan by die teks. Erasmus, as ontwerper van stuk, het homself oortref. Veral en spesifiek met die blote feit dat die gehoor deur sy stel, toegegooi met grond, verwyder word van hulle gemaklikheid en emosioneel gedwing word om ‘n rapsie te ervaar van die emosie wat die teater vul. Met elke geforseerde tree wat deur die spelers op die verhoog gegee word, vul die teater se atmosfeer met stof. Stof wat die konserwatiewe, nougesette Afrikaner laat verstik aan die twak wat hulle vir die samelewing voer oor wie en wat mens mag en moet wees. Vir.Ander neem standpunt in teen die onderdrukking van menswaardigheid en dit is te danke aan Erasmus in sy rol as skrywer, wat braaf genoeg is om sy vingers om die kontoere van jou hart te krul en jou om ‘n emotiewe wipwaentjierit te neem. Dit is daardieselfde hand wat besig is om die landskap van teaterwese in Suid-Afrika te vernuwe deur ‘n elegante  rewolusie.

Die dubbelsinnige gebruik van eenvoudige rekwisiete, lei tot ‘n verhewe interpretasie afhanklik van die gehoor se liberalisme ‘wyl die produksie naak in sy tegniese eenvoud is en terselfdertyd tog so verleidend in sy emosie, wat die eintlike doelwit van teater is. Erasmus en assistent regisseur Zöricke Snyman, het hul vaardigheid om ongelooflike toewyding uit die ensemble te lok bewys deur rou en eerlike emosie ten toon te stel. Elke akteur se rolspel was oortuigend en opreg, sonder om eens te neig na oppervlakkigheid. Hou elke speler noukeurig dop, want selfs wanneer die kalklig, presies en skerp, op ‘n ander speler val, bly die ander in karakter, besig om neweteks sonder huiwer uit te voer; of dit nou is om die laaste boontjie uit ‘n blikkie baked beans te krap of om ‘n draai te loop duskant sy slaapplek omdat die kamp als moontlik doen om hulle menslikheid te ontneem. Hierdie geselskap verdien ‘n staande applous by elke kunstefees reg oor ons land, soos by die openingsaand van die produksie by die Staatsteater.

Vir.Ander is nie net nog ‘n teaterstuk nie. Dit bevraagteken die teenwoordigheid van medemenslikeid of fileo, soos dieselfde Bybel wat as wapen gebruik word om eros te verwerp, dit beskryf. Dit is nie net nog ‘n produksie wat kom en gaan nie. Dit is ‘n uiters kreatiwe en strategiese rebellie teen ‘n vooropgestelde, rigiede idee van ‘n vloeibare konsep en dit is tyd dat hierdie idee aan ‘n brutale moord sterf. ‘n Moord wat deur jou inisieer moet word, want as jy nie opstaan teen iets so eenvoudige soos vooroordelende en neerhalende taalgebruik nie, is jou hande skoner as die van Pontius Pilatus. Is daar dan net geen begrip van liefde by die wat nie genoeg insig toon om te aanvaar nie? Is dit dan nie genoeg rede dat dit wat so maklik afgemaak word as minderwaardig en onaanvaarbaar minstens ook ‘n lewende wese is nie? Daar is altyd plek vir groei in ons eie menslikheid, plek vir empatie en plek vir simpatie. Plek vir Vir.Ander om jou te verander vir ander.

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Dunkirk

A Review

I’m not going to start this review as usual. No rhetorical question to lead you as the reader, to question my opinion about the film. Neither an attempt of a cliffhanger nor initiated doubt as to whether this film is recommended or not. Because of Nolan. And that is more than enough to tell you that it is not to be missed.

Dunkirk. 1940. Approximately 400 000 allied soldiers are pushed back to the beach and are put in chess mate by more than double a number of German troops. They are waiting for extraction, but it seems less likely to make it off the beach alive than it is to stay alive and avoid attack at sea. Attempting to keep the periphery of the defensive line as strong and unpenetrable as the Allies could, the troops make peace with their fate while clinging on to the last bit of hope that once again arose as soon as the first civilian boats arrived from England, to initiate extraction.

As always, the above paragraph about the statistics of war was probably read with the cold unpersonal voice in one’s head when any piece of history is read. The same voice I use when reading the news or a wikipedia article. It isn’t the voice I spare for novels, nor do I give it the emotive authority I lend to the narative of a film, and that is exactly why Dunkirk is such a masterpiece. It demands to be experienced. It doesn’t wait for you to invest in the characters. It doesn’t sweet talk or flatters you. It rips open the wound that is war and lets those who are fortunate enough never to have experienced it, get a hint of the emotional wreckage and physical trauma it evokes. This could, in my opinion, only be achived by filmmakers with the same commitment to the art as director Christopher Nolan has.

Every single aspect of the film contributes to the journey and elevation of the story. Enforced by the long standing relationship Nolan has with composer Hans Zimmer, the extream desperation and fatigued souls of the soldiers are superimposed with the audience’s to leave a lasting impression. It is astonishing how every single aspect of Dunkirk was meticulously orchestrated to contribute to the overall success of a film, something I last experienced when watching The Imitation Game. Everything from costume design and makeup to the commitment of cinematographers and actors was painstakingly perfect in every sense of its being. Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road) especially has the ability to morph into different characters and ennoble the art of acting, which must’ve inspired co-stars Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles to impress.

As a final note on the evoked thought that resulted from this film, I would like to thank the custodians of the front, as well as those who took any measure of bravery, whether it be as enlisting or as hugging a family member goodbye because of their enlistment – especially during the World Wars in which so many South Africans too fought. I have never had to worry about a loved one, nor fret about my freedom and I know how fortunate I am. All I want you to know is that your impact is greater that you will ever let yourself realise. And thank you to the filmmakers and producers that take on these project not because they want to make a film packed with action and explosions, but because there are so many unpopular stories that should be told about war. All wars. All battles. All fronts.

Dunkirk is everything one would hope it to be.

But it is so much more too.

Please be sure to like, subscribe, comment and share. For more reviews, access my archive by clicking on the triangle with the plus sign right at the bottom of the page or click on “more reviews” in the menu up top.

The Shack

A Review

I expected a Hallmark type of a movie. The type of movie that casts struggling actors, desperate to break into an industry dominated by only a select few, to make do with the limited budget they have. Usually set in a town with a population of no more than three thousand people, where the main street is the only street, all buildings are made of wood and everybody drives a pickup. But what I got was so much more.

The audience is introduced to the perfect family in a cohesive loving environment about to embark on a camping trip when the eldest children persuade their father to stop at the Multnomah Falls where Mack (Sam Worthington) introduces his youngest daughter, Missy (Amelie Eve) to the legend of the Multnomah Princess. He tells her how there was a terrible disease spreading amongst the indigenous people of the Multnomah tribe. The tribe’s eldest medicine man revealed that the disease had been augured and that the only cure would be if a princess of the tribe sacrifices herself by leaping from the highest cliff. The chief refused to sacrifice one of his daughters and chose to let the disease roam. After one of his daughters saw the suffering the people of her tribe is going through, she decided to take the burden upon herself so her people can once again live the lives they were meant to live. It is at the exact position on the cliff from which she leaped where water started to flow and the people were cleansed.

Skip ahead a few days and the family is about to head home from their vacation when Missy disappears from the camp site. Her clothes, covered in blood, are discovered in an abandoned wooden shack in the middle of the woods. While attempting to deal with the loss of their youngest daughter, the family is torn apart emotionally by a deeply mourning father, rebelling against God.  One winter’s day, he discovers a card in his mailbox, inviting him back to the same shack where, presumably, his daughter’s last breath was taken. He commences on a vengeful excursion with an acrimonious heart, to avenge the untimely death of his daughter, ready to face the man who caused it.

He arrives at the snow covered shack with the still bloodstained floor to find that he is alone. As he treads through the thick snow blanket that covers the earth, he sees a man approaching him. The stranger unexpectedly invites him to his cabin to warm up before he heads home. Mack follows him and as he walks on the meandering path, he walks from winter into summer before reaching the exact same shack, now invitingly warm, filled with laughter and sunshine, covered in all that is beautiful in nature. He is introduced to three people; a warm and loving African-American woman – God (Academy Award Winning Octavia Spencer), or Papa as his wife Nan calls Him, a young Asian woman named Sarayu (Sumire Matsubara) – The Holy Ghost and Jesus (Aviv Alush), the Middle Eastern man that invited him. Mack is then taken on a journey of healing and forgiveness by the ultimate blissful way any person who believes in a Higher Being could imagine.

The film isn’t a technical masterpiece, but let’s be honest, did we expect it to be? Yes, my hopes did go up when I saw Octavia Spencer as one of the leads in the film, but the Christian Film genre still suffers from a stigma and certain prejudice that I too make myself guilty of. The set design complimented the film well but was nothing more of the bare minimum required to be successful while the CGI was blatantly amateurish and a few instances of discontinuity distracted me. Sam Worthington might benefit by a few extra hours with a sociolinguist as his accent tended to break a little towards the end of sentences but he made up for it in acting (credit to the director, Stuart Hazeldine, too) by not opting for predictable overly emotional mourning and deranged sadness in specific scenes. As for the rest, it was all up to par. I feel it worthy to mention that I have never, in any production, seen such perfect casting of an actor in a role as Aviv Alush in the role of Christ.  He portrayed the role exactly as one would imagine Jesus to be – warm, inviting, friendly and calm, respectful, motivational, loving and kind. Through tactful cinematography when Aviv spoke and the complimenting hint of an Israeli accent, you can’t help but feel at ease.

The film is loaded with subtleties (take note of the front garden at the family’s home during the course of the film) that only gain meaning once it is contemplated and became the topic of discussion amongst friends; such as the fact that God approached Mack as an African-American woman in the film, everything his father wasn’t in order to be more approachable. Another prime example of a subtle message in the film is the attentive direction from the cinematographer to allow Jesus and Sarayu to walk nearly out of the frame every time Mack had to make a tough decision, before turning around to reassure Mack that He loves him and wants him to follow, but it is still his decision. Not once did Sarayu, nor Jesus take Mack’s hand to embark on a journey, or instructed Mack to go with, linking to what God truly wants from us: to follow because we want to. He will show the way and He desperately wants us to take every step with Him, but it should be our choice to do so. It is up to us to make the decision to commit to the journey.

I am an over thinker, especially when it comes to films. I have a longing to understand why every single change in tone, piece of décor, camera angle or line were decided on. I struggled to grasp why Papa came to Mack in the form of an elderly Native American man in the middle of the film because, according to Papa, that day’s activities requires a father figure. That specific day resulted in the start of Mack’s emotional and spiritual healing. What I came up with is the following:  The legend that Mack told Missy in the beginning of the film was about a Native American tribe being healed after the sacrifice of the tribe’s princess. Could it be that just as the chief went through a great loss for the people of his tribe to be healed, so Mack had to go walk through the valley of the shadow of death for the immense amount of spiritual healing and intimate relationship to be initiated, drawing a direct comparison with something tangible and known to Mack?

The film doesn’t fit the stigma of the Christian Film genre, nor does it deserve the prejudice I have given it. It is what you make of it. It is an opportunity for you to get to know the heart of the Most High and realize that the very essence of The Holy Trinity is love, nothing less than pure and unconditional love. And if you do not believe, go see it anyway. Not only because I’m hoping that the film speaks to you, but also because you might just understand why some choose to believe. Call it meditation, church, soul searching or whatever you feel comfortable with, but I believe that you will get the insight, clarity or message you long for from The Shack.

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